Sunday, July 1, 2012
Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 Mark 5:21-43
Mark’s Gospel reading for this Sunday is a beautiful one for those who serve in Catholic health care. It recounts the story of a woman who is desperate for Jesus to heal her. She has been dealing with chronic bleeding for 12 years and believes that if she can even touch the hem of his cloak, she will be healed. In the midst of a large crowd Jesus somehow feels healing power go forth from him and asks, “Who touched me?” His disciples are incredulous-”What do you mean ‘who touched you’? There are many people next to you in this crowd.” But he asks the question again and the woman acknowledges that she is the one. He tells her, “Your faith has healed you.” The woman is physically healed (her bleeding stops) but more than that, she is also healed spiritually and socially. She can now rejoin her religious and social community after having been isolated for the past 12 years. Jesus’ healing always involves restoring people to fullness of life, not simply physical cure.
We use this story at new employee orientation and I invite people to share how this healing story is reflected in the care St. Mary’s gives today. We too care for people who are isolated because of their illness or injury-people with HIV/AIDS, people dealing with mental health issues or substance abuse, some of our residents at DYP without family or friends to visit. It is our responsibility to recognize people desperate for healing and to approach it in partnership with them, calling on the healing resources they have within themselves. We too give holistic care-paying attention to patients’ and residents’ physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs.
There is a second healing story included in this passage: a father desperate for Jesus to heal his 12 year old daughter. She dies before Jesus can arrive and Jesus tells the father and the crowd that the child is not dead, only sleeping. The crowd scoffs at Jesus, not believing that he can heal her. He invites her to rise and she does. He restores her life.
Rev. Lewis Galloway points out that in both encounters there are people desperate for healing and also people who don’t take Jesus seriously (the disciples and the crowd.) He notes, “Something more is going on here than two stories simply sandwiched together. The woman has been sick for twelve years…Jesus addresses the woman, who would have been considered unclean, as ‘daughter.’ By touching Jesus, the woman threatens to spread her ritual uncleanliness to Jesus. When Jesus takes the dead girl by the hand, he dares to make himself unclean because he transgresses another boundary by touching the dead. The healing touch of Jesus makes them well instead of making him unclean. You might say that Jesus plunders the realm of the unclean and even the realm of the dead to restore these two women to abundant life…At the end, those who doubted and those who laughed are left in speechless amazement.”
These are difficult days in which to trust in abundant life. Fortunately abundant life comes from God’s grace, not our own efforts. We can be instruments of that grace through our dedication, compassion and skill. And we can trust in Divine Providence (God’s ability to provide what is needed) just as St. Marguerite d’Youville did in her own era. Maybe even laugh in speechless amazement.